Firearms deer hunting season opened in Indiana this past Saturday, November 14th — and again Switzerland County hunters were in the woods hoping to fill their freezers with meat and their walls with mounts of impressive antler racks.
“As far as I understand, things are going well,” Indiana Conservation Public Information Officer Josh Thomas said of Switzerland County. “The harvest rate — I haven’t specifically looked at it — but the guys we’re talking to are seeing deer and they are pretty pleased with the hunt. There’s some violations occurring, of course, that we’ve dealt with — like taking more than the allowed number of deer per person, things like that. It’s kind of typical but it seems to be okay. Nobody in Switzerland County — knock on wood — has fallen from a tree stand. We can’t say that about all of the surrounding counties we’re in.”
Over the past four or five years, the process that the Conservation office uses for hunters to check in their deer has changed. No longer do hunters have to take their harvest to a check in station, it’s all done online.
“Essentially, when you harvest an animal — when you shoot it — upon getting to it you have to make out what is called a temporary tag,” Thomas said. “That can be on a piece of paper, it can be on a business card, it can be on anything; but it needs your name and address, the sex of the animal taken, the date and time it was taken, and your license number. Once you have that, it either needs to stay with the carcass, or if you are with the carcass, you can have it in your pocket — if you’re dragging it out of the woods or whatever. Once you lose sight of that animal, you have to attach that temporary tag to the carcass.”
Thomas said that once the hunter is at that stage, they have 48 hours to check the deer into the Indiana Conservation Officer system, which can be located by going to www.in.gov.checkINgame.
“They can create an account and do it online for free,” Thomas said. “There’s also a phone number attached to the DNR website that they can call and check it in on the phone (1-800-419-1326). It costs $3 to check it in by phone (VISA or MasterCard only). They have 48 hours to do that, and we’re very particular on that. That’s a pretty gracious time span, really. We’re more or less looking out for the folks down in the ridges who don’t have service.”
Thomas says that the hunter will then receive a confirmation number from DNR after they check in their animal.
“At that point, they must write that confirmation number on that temporary tag,” Thomas said. “From there they are checked in and they are good to go. They can take it to a processor or they can butcher it themselves. One thing they need to remember — we ran into problems with this over the weekend, is that you cannot start the butchering process until that animal has been checked in either online or through the phone number. You can still field dress it and all that, prepare it, but you can’t start the butchering process until that’s complete.”
Thomas said that the DNR gets a lot of questions about the perceived lack of processors in the time of the pandemic, but he says that he hasn’t seen any lack of availability.
“We have several processors in the area,” he said. “They pop up and then they seem to go away after a few years. I think guys just tend to get burned out on dealing with deer.”
Shotgun season in Indiana began last Saturday, November 14th, and runs through Sunday, November 29th. Muzzleloader season then begins on Saturday, December 5th.
“The cool thing is, the way we have this set up is, no matter if it’s firearms season or muzzleloader season, you can still archery hunt the entire span,” Thomas said. “Some guys take that option. They just need to remember to put orange on — they didn’t have to do that back in October.”
Above all, Thomas wants to stress that all hunters remember to use and comply with all safety measures while hunting, and remember that there may be other hunters in the woods around them.
Editor’s Note: Vevay Media Group reached out to the community for submissions of photos to be included with this story. The number of submissions were overwhelming, and much appreciated. Included here are just a few of those submitted. Vevay Media Group is always open to printing photos of deer season, from big bucks to a child’s first deer. Stop by the newspaper office at 111 West Market Street and we’ll scan your photo and give it right back to you, or the photos may be emailed along with the information to firstname.lastname@example.org